A captivating biography possessing as much verve as its inimitable subject.

SARAH BERNHARDT

THE DIVINE AND DAZZLING LIFE OF THE WORLD'S FIRST SUPERSTAR

A scintillating portrait of the stage legend.

Reef brings to life for teen readers Bernhardt, a 19th-century icon and paragon of the French theater—and a single mother who went on to earn France’s highest recognition, the Legion of Honor. Industrious, multitalented, and wildly eccentric, this self-made artist had an exceptional gift for creating multiple personae. The author convincingly argues Bernhardt was indeed the world’s first superstar, wooing audiences of thousands on multiple continents with her ability to command the stage and capturing the devotion of fans with her indefatigable spirit and take-no-prisoners attitude. A biographer’s dream, Bernhardt the actor, patriot, world traveler, mother, sculptor, motion-picture star, and author packed countless professional and personal feats into her 78 years. Henry James also noted she had “in a supreme degree what the French call the génie de la réclame—the advertising genius,” pulling stunts such as having herself photographed sleeping in her coffin (to remind herself of “the mystery of death”) and acquiring scores of exotic pets, among them a lion cub, tortoises, chameleons, and—when on tour in New Orleans—an alligator named Ali-Gaga. Thoroughly researched and enhanced by illuminating illustrations, Reef’s account pulls out all the stops in showing both Bernhardt’s struggles and triumphs as the daughter of a Jewish courtesan who attained dizzying heights of success.

A captivating biography possessing as much verve as its inimitable subject. (author’s note, endnotes, bibliography, timeline, picture credits, index) (Biography. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-55750-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.

CONTINUUM

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Deaf, trans artist Man meditates on his journey and identity in this brief memoir.

Growing up in conservative central Pennsylvania was tough for the 21-year-old Deaf, genderqueer, pansexual, and biracial (Chinese/White Jewish) author. He describes his gender and sexual identity, his experiences of racism and ableism, and his desire to use his visibility as a YouTube personality, model, and actor to help other young people like him. He is open and vulnerable throughout, even choosing to reveal his birth name. Man shares his experiences of becoming deaf as a small child and at times feeling ostracized from the Deaf community but not how he arrived at his current Deaf identity. His description of his gender-identity development occasionally slips into a well-worn pink-and-blue binary. The text is accompanied and transcended by the author’s own intriguing, expressionistic line drawings. However, Man ultimately falls short of truly insightful reflection or analysis, offering a mostly surface-level account of his life that will likely not be compelling to readers who are not already fans. While his visibility and success as someone whose life represents multiple marginalized identities are valuable in themselves, this heartfelt personal chronicle would have benefited from deeper introspection.

Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22348-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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